Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Books from the First Half of 2022

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  The official topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday involved listing your favourite upcoming books for Winter 2022.  However, as I had already done this list a few weeks ago, I thought I would instead take this opportunity to celebrate the fact that we are already nearly into the second half of 2022.

2022 has already proven to be a pretty fantastic year for books, and I have already read some incredible 2022 releases, including impressive standalone books, amazing new entries in established series and fantastic debuts.  Because of this, I thought that I would take the time to work out what my top ten favourite books from the first half of 2022 were.  To be eligible, a book had to be released in the first half of this year in some form.  I have also excluded any books released during this period that I have not so far read, although a couple of releases I have my eye on might have appeared on this list if I had read them in time.

Coming up with this list proved to be a rather bigger task than I originally intended, as I ended up amassing nearly 20 different releases, all of which I consider to be some pretty outstanding reads.  I ended up being able to eventually whittle this down to an acceptable Top Ten list, although I did include my typical generous honourable mentions section.  I am rather happy with how this list turned out, although I am surprised at some of the great recent books that ended up being excluded.  Still, the entries below represent what I considered to be some of the best books from the first half of 2022, and I would strongly recommend each and every one of them. 

Honourable Mentions:

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone Cover

A clever and hilarious take on the classic murder mystery story from a talented Australian crime fiction author.

 

Her Perfect Twin by Sarah Bonner

Her Perfect Twin Cover

An impressive debut by Sarah Bonner that imagines a woman murdering her twin and impersonating her.  Featuring a very twisty story that goes in some surprising, but fantastic directions, this was a very awesome read that sets Bonner up as an amazing new talent.

 

Warhammer 40,000: Steel Tread by Andy Clarke

Steel Tread Cover

A captivating and powerful Warhammer 40,000 tie-in novel from the start of the year that was an excellent piece of sci-fi military fiction.  Following the crew of the tank, Steel Tread, on a hellscape of a battlefield, this was an intense and action-packed story that I quickly flew through.

 

Master of Furies by Raymond E. Feist

Master of Furies Cover

Raymond E. Feist finalised The Firemane Saga (previously featuring King of Ashes and Queen of Storms) in a big way this year.  This was a great read that featured an addictive classic fantasy adventure with some very interesting surprise elements.

List (no particular order):

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne

The Hunger of the Gods Cover

Let us start this list off with the book that has the best cover, The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne.  Following on from Gwynne’s epic 2021 novel, The Shadow of the Gods (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021), The Hunger of the Gods perfectly continues the dark fantasy masterpiece, pitting men, gods and monsters against each other in a brutal, Norse-inspired fantasy world.  Featuring some outstanding new character perspectives, a bunch of great twists, and a ton of action, this sequel was a worthy addition to this fantastic series, and I had such an incredible time reading it.

 

Desperate Undertaking by Lindsey Davis

Desperate Undertaking Cover 2

One of my favourite historical fiction authors, Lindsey Davis, continues to shine with her long-running Flavia Albia historical murder mystery series.  This latest entry, Desperate Undertaking, features a complex and entertaining new mystery in ancient Rome when a troupe of actors start getting murdered in brutal, theatrical ways.  Easily one of Davis’ best stories, Desperate Undertaking grabs your attention right off the bat and refuses to let go.

 

A Practical Guide to Conquering the World by K. J. Parker

A Practical Guide to Conquering the World Cover

One of the very first novels that I read in 2022 ended up being one of the very best: the hilarious fantasy novel, A Practical Guide to Conquering the World by K. J. Parker.  Set in the same universe as his previous connected releases, Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City and How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It, A Practical Guide to Conquering the World follows a scribe and translator who uses his scholarly knowledge and skills at manipulation to conquer the entire world.  Containing whip-sharp satire and a brilliant story, this was such an addictive and fun read I honestly could not put down.

 

Usagi Yojimbo: Tengu War! by Stan Sakai

Usagi Yojimbo - Tengu War!

My love affair with one of my favourite comics, Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo series, continued this year with the latest volume, Tengu War!  Containing several epic new stories, loaded with cool art and impressive world building, Tengu War! was another amazing volume that got a full five-star rating from me.  I loved this new volume so much and I can’t wait to get my hands on Sakai’s next release, Crossroads, later this year.

 

Sierra Six by Mark Greaney

Sierra Six Cover

Bestselling thriller author, Mark Greaney, is having a great year in 2022, with both the upcoming film adaptation of his debut novel, The Gray Man, and two awesome books coming out.  The first of these, Sierra Six, is one of his best, following iconic protagonist, Court Gentry, the infamous Gray Man, on another intense mission connected to one of his earliest assignments for the CIA.  I had a brilliant time with this new Gray Man novel (the 11th in the series), as it featured an impressive, split-time narrative with some great characters.  Another impressive book from Greaney that is really worth reading. 

 

Against All Gods by Miles Cameron

Against all Gods Cover

The always inventive Miles Cameron continues to shine brightly with a bold and compelling start to a new fantasy series with Against All Gods.  Set in a bronze-age inspired setting, Against All Gods follows a group of mortals who attempt the impossible and declare war on their violent and selfish gods.  With an addictive, over-the-top story, Against All Gods was a ton of fun, and it ended up being a truly amazing novel.

 

The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer

The German Wife Cover

Last year Australian author, Kelly Rimmer, produced a very impressive and extremely moving historical drama, The Warsaw Orphan, which really stuck with me.  As such, I was very excited to receive her new book, The German Wife, which ended up being a truly incredible read.  This fantastic novel follows two intriguing protagonists up to the 1950s as they traverse some of the worst parts of world history.  With a particularly intense focus on the rise of Nazism in Germany and the subsequent recruitment of German rocket scientists by the Americans, The German Wife is a captivating read that contains powerful emotional hit after powerful emotional hit.

 

Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch

Amongst our Weapons Cover

One of the leading authors of urban fantasy fiction, Ben Aaronovitch, returned with another superb entry in his Rivers of London series.  Featuring another exceptional fusion of a police procedural story with unique fantasy elements, Amongst our Weapons was a fantastic addition to the series.  Slick, clever and constantly entertaining, Amongst our Weapons once again showed off Aaronovitch’s talent and is an outstanding book to check out.

 

Ghazghkull Thraka: Prophet of the Waaagh! By Nate Crowley

Ghazghkull Thraka - Prophet of the Waaagh! Cover

I have been having so much fun reading Warhammer fiction over the last few years, and 2022 has already produced some amazing reads.  My favourite of this year so far had to be Nate Crowley’s outrageous and amusing Ghazghkull Thraka: Prophet of the Waaagh!  Following the most iconic ork in the Warhammer canon, this was an excellent retelling of Ghazghkull Thraka’s life from a unique source.  Filled with non-stop laughs, explosive action, and a real appreciation for the ork faction, this was a wildly appealing book that I had to feature here.

 

Death of the Black Widow by James Patterson and J. D. Barker

Death of the Black Widow Cover

The final novel I want to highlight is Death of the Black Widow, written by the superstar team of James Patterson and J. D. Barker.  A crime thriller with an intriguing horror twist, Death of the Black Widow was a surprising hit for me, and I really was drawn into its terrific story.  One of the more memorable and enjoyable books I have so far read this year, I had a lot of fun with Death of the Black Widow, and I deeply enjoyed its compelling tale of obsession, mystery and death.

 

 

I have already read some amazing and epic books so far in 2022 and we are only halfway through the year.  I am pretty happy with how this list turned out, and it features some extraordinary reads that all come highly recommended.  It will be interesting to see which of these books ends up being amongst my top reads of 2022, as there is some impressive competition coming out in the second half of the year, not to mention some outstanding current releases I need to check out.  Still, all the novels above come very highly recommended, and you are guaranteed to have a wonderful time reading them.  Let me know what your favourite releases for the first half of the year are in the comments below, as well as which of the above books you liked the most.

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne

The Hunger of the Gods Cover

Publisher: Orbit (Audiobook – 14 April 2022)

Series: The Bloodsworn Saga – Book Two

Length: 22 hours and 57 minutes

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Extremely talented dark fantasy John Gwynne returns with one of my most anticipated fantasy novels of 2022, The Hunger of the Gods, the epic second entry in The Bloodsworn Saga.

Last year, the fantasy world was aflame with discussion about a certain novel from acclaimed author John Gwynne, best known for his The Faithful and the Fallen series and its sequel Of Blood and Bone trilogy.  While I wasn’t initially intending to check this book out, the sheer amount of positive feedback and reviews convinced me that I was clearly missing out, so I grabbed a copy and ended up being deeply impressed by the elaborate fantasy saga it contained.  That novel was The Shadow of the Gods, a Norse inspired dark fantasy tale that saw three intriguing protagonists explore a deadly new fantasy world wrecked by the last battle of the dead gods, and filled with monsters, warbands and powered humans tainted by the divine ancestors.  I had an exceptional time with this great book, which really met all my expectations and ended up being one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021 (it also topped my favourite new-to-me authors list and best covers of 2021 list, it was just that damn awesome).  I deeply enjoyed the fantastic and elaborate tale this novel contained, and I could not wait to see how it would be continued.  As such, when I received a copy of the sequel, The Hunger of the Gods, which featured another awesome fantasy cover and plot synopsis, I immediately started reading it and was once again thrust into world of gods and heroes.

The dread dragon god, Lik-Rifa the soul-stealer, has been released from her ancient tomb and now all of Vigrid lies in peril.  Determined to unleash a new era of blood, death and conquest upon the lands, Lik-Rifa immediately begins to gather around her horde of Tainted warriors, including her own descendants, the dragon-born, terrible monsters and a cult of followers, all slaved to her will.  Hope looks bleak, especially as the warring human kingdoms remain unaware that Lik-Rifa is free and about to unleash fresh horrors upon them.

Amongst this chaos, the deadly Orka continues her hunt for her stolen son, taken by Lik-Rifa’s followers.  Now revealed as the legendary and infamous warrior, the Skullsplitter, Orka will not rest until she has her son and her vengeance, no matter the obstacles.  While Orka continues her quest, her former warband of secretly Tainted warriors, the Bloodsworn, head south, determined to rescue one of their members, while their newest initiate, Varg, continues his attempts to find vengeance for his sister.  Meanwhile, Elvar is forced to fulfil the blood oath she took to rescue another child from the dragonborn, and needs to convince her now leaderless warband, the Battle-Grim, to follow her.

As these brave warriors each take their own steps to destiny, they will all face dangerous challenges and horrendous odds.  Orka will need to come to grips with the wolf lying deep in her heart as she attempts the impossible: defying a god.  Varg and the Bloodsworn will travel to a distant land to achieve their goals, only to meet tragedy and loss.  Elvar finally attempts to claim the responsibility of leadership that she has always desired.  However, despite all their bravery and skill in arms, none of these heroes are going to be capable of fighting Lik-Rifa directly.  Instead, Elvar and her company will attempt a desperate plan, using forbidden magic to bring a dead god to life and bind it to their will.

Wow oh wow, what an incredible and awesome read.  Gwynne continues to showcase why he is one of the best current authors of fantasy fiction with The Hunger of the Gods, which perfectly continues the impressive Bloodsworn Saga in a big way.  Featuring tons of bloody action, impressive new fantasy elements, complex characters, and a powerful and elaborate narrative that is the very definition of epic, The Hunger of the Gods was another five-star read from Gwynne that is easily one of the better books I have read so far this year.

The Hunger of the Gods has an outstanding and impressive story that instantly grabs the reader’s attention and ensures that they are unable to put the book down until the very last page.  This sequel kicks off right after the epic conclusion of The Shadow of the Gods and quickly follows up on all the big revelations and events that occurred there, especially the release of the giant dragon god, Lik-Rifa, who serves as a suitably sinister and epic main antagonist for the series.  Just like the first book, The Hunger of the Gods’ narrative is told from a series of split storylines, each one focused on a specific point-of-view character.  All three character-specific storylines from The Shadow of the Gods are continued here, following Orka, Varg and Elva.  These existing storylines go in some exciting and interesting directions in The Hunger of the Gods, and I loved how the author expanded on the character’s growth and individual journeys from the first novel, while also keeping some of the existing dynamics and elements.  Gwynne also adds in two new point-of-view characters, as antagonists Gudvarr and Biorr, who were good secondary characters from The Shadow of the Gods, get their own intriguing storylines here.  These new character arcs are impressively entertaining, providing great alternate perspectives to deepen the story, while also working into the existing storylines extremely well.  All five storylines go in some great directions throughout the course of the novel, and there are some absolutely brilliant moments, twists and revelations that occur throughout, especially as many of these storylines started to come together more.  I had an excellent time seeing where everything went, and Gwynne really did a great job taking all these character stories in some appropriate directions.  Every single storyline end on an amazing note and the conclusions are guaranteed to drag readers back for the third Bloodsworn novel.

This second book in The Bloodsworn Saga is written pretty damn perfectly as Gwynne continues his magic to produce an addictive and distinctive read.  The Hunger of the Gods retains the excellent tone introduced in the first novel, ensuring that everything comes across as a Norse adventure story set within a unique, dark fantasy realm.  Everything about this book is handled extremely well, from the exceptional pacing, which ensures that you fly through this massive novel, to the intense and brutal action that is installed in every section of the book, guaranteeing that readers get that much needed adrenalin rush.  Gwynne utilises an interesting writing style here that really emphasises repetition and unique dialogue to help to make the story feel more and more like an epic Norse saga.  Just like the preceding novel in The Bloodsworn Saga, I think that The Hunger of the Gods had just the right blend of action, humour, character growth, world building and darker elements to create an excellent and enticing read.  I also have to say that I was quite impressed with how Gwynne was able to avoid middle book syndrome here, as in many ways The Hunger of the Gods was even better than The Shadow of the Gods.  While the story does slow down in places to help build up certain settings or plot elements, there is always something interesting or compelling going on, and I can honestly say that I was not bored at any point in the book.  You could almost read The Hunger of the Gods by itself with no knowledge of the preceding book and still have a brilliant time with it, especially with the detailed synopsis of the prior novel at the start.

The best thing about how this story is written is the exceptional use of multiple character perspectives.  The story perfectly flits between the five separate characters arcs throughout the novel, with a different character being focused on with each new chapter.  Thanks to the inclusions of two new characters, readers of this sequel get to enjoy a much deeper story here, especially as the new characters are associated with some of the series’ antagonists, providing some fantastic new elements.  I think the additional characters worked really well, as while the existing three protagonists are great, their storylines needed to be spaced out more in this sequel.  All five separate character storylines play off each other perfectly as the novel continues, telling an immense narrative that, while connected, still contains a fair bit of individuality as you follow their specific adventure.

I liked finally being able to see some interactions between the various protagonists and I loved seeing these outstanding and well-written characters finally come together in some intense scenes, allowing the reader to see these distinctive characters viewed through the eyes of the other protagonists.  The author had a great sense of which perspectives needed to featured at certain times, and there were some amazing contrasts as certain exciting storylines were played off each other, especially when you were able to see two sides to certain major battles or events.  In addition, this is one of those rare multi-narrative fantasy novels where it is near impossible to choose a favourite storyline or character to follow.  Each of the five storylines offers the reader something different, from a bloody revenge story, to an intriguing look at the book’s main antagonists, and all of them work extremely well in the context of the wider story.  I will say that Orka’s brilliant quest for her son has some amazing action scenes and powerful character moments, while the camaraderie and excellent larger-scale battles of Varg’s storyline ensured that I was excited to hear from this character.  In addition, Gudvarr provides some great political intrigue from the perspective of a true weasel, which was so very fun to watch.  However, I honestly had a great time with every single character, and there was not a moment that their individual stories did not enhance the overall quality of The Hunger of the Gods.

I really must highlight the incredible dark fantasy setting of The Bloodsworn Saga that is expertly used again in The Hunger of the Gods after Gwynne took the time to set it up in the first novel.  The harsh land of Vigrid, with its warring Jarls, terrifying monsters, long-dead gods, glory-seeking warbands and the feared and exploited Tainted, works so well as a background to this epic story and it really helps to expand the bloody adventures featured within.  I loved how Gwynne uses classic Norse elements like shield walls, longboats, weaponry and mindsets, and I still really love seeing this in a fantasy context, especially when combined or used against the monsters and Tainted characters.  This is further enhanced with the continued use of Norse inspired terms and dialogue throughout the novel, and it helps to give this entire series such a distinctive feel (although I kind of wish that he would stop trying to continually make “thought cage” an alternative to a person’s skull).  While the author spends a bit of time continuing these elements from the first book, The Shadow of the Gods also features some brilliant world building as Gwynne provides intriguing enhancements to the existing gods, land and people, which were already extremely intriguing.  There are also some examinations of the neighbouring nation of Iskidan, which was mentioned a few times in the first book.  Iskidan, which has elements of historical China, the Middle East and the Byzantine Empire in its construction, serves as an intriguing counterpoint to Vigrid, and it was fascinating to learn more about it.  I also loved a couple of cool, if freaky new monsters, that were featured in this book, although the flesh burrowing insect monster and the nightmare inducing tongue eaters, are a bit on the gruesome side (readers who don’t like body modifying monsters are warned to stay away).  All these awesome elements are fitted in the book perfectly, and I loved this continued dive into the dark and gruesome world Gwynne has lovingly created.

While the awesome narrative, clever storytelling and dark fantasy setting are amazing parts of the book, I would be extremely remiss if I didn’t highlight the incredible character work that Gwynne did within The Hunger of the Gods.  Just like the first book in The Bloodsworn Saga, The Hunger of the Gods features an impressive and captivating cast of characters, each of whom are expertly featured and who add some fantastic elements to the overall story.  This is particularly true for the wonderful and memorable characters from whose perspective this epic tale unfolds.  Gwynne did an incredible job introducing these excellent characters in the first book, and it was great to see two previous supporting characters promoted up to the central cast.  All five main characters are exceptional and their unique personalities and goals ensure that every chapter is different from the last which helps to produce an awesome and expansive read.

The first of these characters is Orka, an incredibly dangerous warrior who is hunting for her lost son and vengeance for her murdered husband.  Orka is a brilliant and complex figure who is easily one of the most exciting and enjoyable characters in the entire series.  Due to her single-minded determination and bloodlust, pretty much all Orka’s chapters read like a bloody revenge trip that is essentially a dark fantasy version of Taken.  Gwynne continues this excellent trend with Orka in this second novel and it was great to see this implacable warrior travel across this land, killing everyone who gets in her way as she takes big risks.  However, Gwynne adds in some extra elements to Orka’s tale in The Hunger of the Gods, especially following the revelations made at the end of The Shadow of the Gods that Orka is both Tainted and the former leader of the Bloodsworn, the legendary killer known as the Skullsplitter.  Orka actually comes across as a lot more bestial in this second book, especially after the big massacre she created at the end of The Shadow of the Gods that unleashed her inner monster.  As such, there are more scenes of Orka trying to contain her rage and anger, and there were some fantastic and clever portrayals of her inner beast throughout the book.  We also see some of Orka’s guilt and regret as the novel explores how she left the Bloodsworn and the relationships she sacrificed for the sake of her unborn son.  I also quite enjoyed seeing her as a reluctant leader in this novel as she finds herself in charge of a small team of warriors and monsters.  This enhances her sense of guilt and remembrances of her previous time with the Bloodsworn, and it adds some fun drama and even a mentoring arc as continues her work with her young student, Lif.  Orka’s storyline goes in some great directions throughout The Hunger of the Gods, and you will be enthralled with her tale right up until the last line of this book.

I also had a lot of fun with Varg in this book.  Varg, or as his warband knows him, Varg No-Sense, was probably my favourite character in The Shadow of the Gods and he continues to be an excellent part of this sequel.  While he doesn’t develop as much as some of the other characters in The Hunger of the Gods, Varg still remains an enjoyable figure.  Most of the appeal revolves around his friendship and growing sense of acceptance with his fellow Bloodsworn, and I liked seeing him continue to develop as a warrior and a free person, especially as starts to create some meaningful relationships.  Like Orka, a lot of Varg’s personal storyline deals with his desire for vengeance, as well as his issues controlling his Tainted rage, and I liked seeing how this complemented and contrasted with Orka’s experiences.  This is particularly noticeable when it comes to how he deals with loss, something he is not good at, especially when some good friends fall throughout the story.  As a result, there are some great moments for Varg in this novel, and his chapters are filled with some of the funniest supporting characters and best battle sequences.  I did find it interesting that Varg didn’t have the biggest impact on the overall storyline in this novel, even during his own chapters, but Gwynne is clearly planning some big things for him in the future, which I am really looking forward to.

Elvar, also has a great storyline in The Hunger of the Gods, and I honestly think that out of all the characters, she has the most development in this book.  Due to where her story from The Shadow of the Gods ended up (dragon gods rising and all), I was extremely excited to see more from Elvar in this novel, and it really did not disappoint as she immediately gets into action, resurrecting gods and bending them to her will.  Quite a lot of major plot elements occur through Elvar’s eyes, and she proves to be an excellent focus for all these key storylines.  I liked how Elvar grew up quite a lot in this sequel, especially after the traumatic betrayals of the previous book, and she ends up with a very different mindset throughout this sequel, especially when it comes to leadership and her need for fame.  Watching her grow and take control of the Battle-Grim is a compelling part of this novel, and it was awesome to see her come to terms with her new responsibilities.  It was also great to see how a lot of Elvar’s story comes full circle in this novel, especially when it comes to her personal history and family, and her final chapters in this novel are some of the best in the book.  I am once again extremely keen to see how Elvar’s story continues in the rest of the series, and Gwynne has left her in an incredible spot for the future.

Like I mentioned above, I was really impressed with Gwynne’s decision to start utilising two additional point-of-view characters in The Hunger of the Gods, and it really helped to turn this sequel into a much more detailed and compelling read.  Part of the reason this works so well is that these two additional characters are both complex and excellent characters, and their chapters act as a great continuation of some of the minor storylines from the first book.  The first of these characters is Biorr, former member of the Battle-Grim who was revealed to be a spy planted by Lik-Rifa’s followers and who ended up betraying and killing the Battle-Grim’s leader.  While it would be easy to hate Biorr for his actions, he becomes quite a sympathetic character.  Not only does he spend most of the book feeling intense guilt for his actions, but he also paints a pretty grim picture of his previous life as a slave, showcasing the hardships he and his fellow Tainted have suffered.  As such, you can understand many of his reasons for why he is helping Lik-Rifa, especially as she is promising a new world order for people like him.  Despite this he is still quite conflicted, and he acts as a more moderate antagonist.  This changes towards the end of the book, especially after he meets a certain divine being, and he starts to become a bit colder and more determined to support Lik-Rifa.  Despite being one of the least action-packed storylines in the novel, Biorr’s chapters were an excellent and entertaining part of the novel.  I particularly enjoyed the intriguing alternate views they gave of the main group of antagonists, making them seem more reasonable and complex, and the inclusion of Biorr greatly enhanced the entire narrative for the best.

The other new point-of-view character is Gudvarr, the conceited lordling who hunted Orka in the last book and was a particularly annoying antagonist.  I must admit that I was initially surprised that out of all the great supporting characters, Gudvarr was the one who was upgraded to main cast.  However, it soon became apparent why he was used, as Gwynne had some real fun turning him into one of the entertainingly despicable characters in the entire novel.  Gudvarr is the absolute epitome of arrogance, petty cruelty and cowardice throughout this book, and it is near impossible to have any respect for him, as he lies, brownnoses and attempt anything to gain power and reputation, often with disastrous results.  Gwynne goes out of his way to make him seem as conceited and cowardly as possible throughout the novel, mainly through his inner monologue, where he constantly hides all his insults and most cowardly thoughts to avoid getting into trouble with actual warrior.  He is such a little arseling in this novel, and you can’t help but hate him, especially as he has the devil’s luck and frustratingly manages to wiggle out of every single disaster he finds himself in.  Despite this, or perhaps because of it, I grew to really enjoy Gudvarr’s chapters as everything he did was hilarious in a sneaky and spiteful way, and it is just so damn entertaining to see him get pushed around then overcome more powerful and confident characters.  The Gudvarr chapters also provide some fantastic insight into another group of antagonists, loaded with political intrigue and deceit from one of the main courts of Vigrid.  I had an absolute blast following Gudvarr throughout the novel, and the way that his storyline in this novel comes to an end is just so perfect and really showcases what an absolute cowardly snake he is.  I cannot wait to see him get his eventual just deserts (or maybe he’ll be the only survivor), and he ended up being on of my surprisingly favourites in The Hunger of the Gods.

Aside from these main five characters, The Hunger of the Gods is filled with a massive raft of supporting characters, with a distinctive cast associated with each of the point-of-view storylines.  Gwynne handles these supporting characters beautifully; despite the cast list going on for six pages, you get to know all of them and fully appreciate everything they bring to the story.  Most of these characters support their respective storylines incredibly well and many of the characters either stand on their own as distinctive figures or have some brilliant interactions with the main characters.  Many of my favourites were members of the Bloodsworn band, with the hilarious and witty Svik being the best example of this with his tall tales, love of cheese, and calming attitude towards Varg, while an additional storyline about his connection to Orka adding some intriguing depth to his character.  You really get to enjoy many of the key Bloodsworn members, although this does mean you become way too emotionally strained when they get hurt or killed.  I also really grew to enjoy returning character Lif in this book as he continues to grow as a warrior through Orka’s tutelage.  Watching him develop is a great part of the Orka chapters, and he proves to be an excellent foil to the brutal main character.  I loved the deeper look at many of the series’ main antagonists throughout The Hunger of Gods, especially with the two new character perspectives, and it was great to see a different side to their plans and motivations.  The multiple resurrected or freed god characters proved to be an excellent addition to this second novel, with the main characters brought into their renewed war one way or another.  These gods really changed the entire story, and it was fascinating to see their interactions with the main characters, as well impact they have on everyone’s psyches.  These great characters, and many more, all added a ton to the story, and I loved how their various arcs and storylines came together.  It will be fascinating to see if anybody else becomes a point-of-view protagonists in the future (my money is on Lif), and I can’t wait to see what happens to these brilliant characters in the future.

While I was lucky enough to receive a physical copy of The Hunger of the Gods, I ended up listening to the audiobook version of it instead, which was an extremely awesome experience.  With a runtime of just under 23 hours, this is a pretty lengthy audiobook (the 19th longest audiobook I’ve ever listened to) and requires a substantial investment of time.  However, this is more than worth it as hearing this epic tale read out to you is a brilliant experience.  Not only does it ensure that you become deeply trapped in the elaborate story and are able to absorb all the great detail, but it also fits with the book’s inherit theme of an oral saga.  One of the best features of this audiobook is impressive narrator Colin Mace, a man with a ton experience narrating elaborate fantasy and science fiction audiobooks (such as The Black Hawks by David Wragg).  Mace has a commanding and powerful voice that really fits the theme of this universe and perfectly conveys all the violence, grim settings and powerful elements of the dark fantasy world.  He does a particularly good job with the character voices as well, as every character has a distinctive tone that fits their personality and actions extremely well.  I loved some of the great voices that he comes up with, including deep-voiced warriors, snivelling cowards, strange creatures, ethereal gods and more, and it helped to turn The Hunger of the Gods audiobook into quite an experience.  As such, I would strongly recommend this audiobook format as the way to enjoy The Hunger of the Gods, and I fully intend to check out the rest of this series on audiobook when it comes out.

John Gwynne continues to dominate the fantasy genre with his incredible Bloodsworn Saga.  The amazing second entry, The Hunger of the Gods, is another exceptional read that takes you on a wild and deadly adventure through Gwynne’s impressively put together dark fantasy world.  Containing an epic and powerful story, chock full of action, Norse fantasy elements and impressive characters, The Hunger of the Gods was one of the best reads of 2022 so far and I had an outstanding time reading it.  In some ways The Hunger of the Gods ended up being a better novel than the first entry in the series and is an absolute must read for all fantasy fans.

WWW Wednesday – 4 May 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

Nine Lives by Peter Swanson (Trade Paperback)

Nine Lives Cover

I have been having a bit of fun this week reading the fantastic crime fiction novel, Nine Lives by Peter Swanson, whose work I previously enjoyed on Rules for Perfect Murder.  This intriguing read sees nine strangers each receive a letter with nine names on it, including their own, and before long, the people on this list start getting killed off.  This is a really cool concept for a mystery and I cannot wait to see how it resolves.  I have already made some good progress on Nine Lives and should hopefully finish it off soon.

 

World of Warcraft: Sylvanas by Christie Golden (Audiobook)

World of Warcraft - Sylvanas Cover

I also just started listening to the new World of Warcraft novel, Sylvanas, by tie-in fiction author extraordinaire Christie Golden. This excellent novel follows the life of one of the games most complex characters, Sylvanas Windrunner, and shows how she went from respected hero to notorious villain.  Sure to be one of the better World of Warcraft tie-in novels, I am having a great time with this audiobook and will hopefully finish it off in the next week or so.

What did you recently finish reading?

Death of the Black Widow by James Patterson and J. D. Barker (Trade Paperback)

Death of the Black Widow Cover

 

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne (Audiobook)

The Hunger of the Gods Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Wake by Shelley Burr

Wake Cover

 

 

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

WWW Wednesday – 27 April 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

Death of the Black Widow by James Patterson and J. D. Barker (Trade Paperback)

Death of the Black Widow Cover

I just started reading Death of the Black Widow, a compelling and exciting thriller from the intriguing writing team of James Patterson and J. D. Barker.  Death of the Black Widow follows a young police officer who becomes obsessed with a mysterious murderess and spends the rest of his life trying to hunt her down.  I am about 60 pages into Death of the Black Widow at the moment and I am already hooked on its thrilling and captivating narrative. 

 

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne (Audiobook)

The Hunger of the Gods Cover

I am still going with this audiobook version of The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne which is proving to be extremely exceptional.  The sequel to his highly regarded 2021 dark fantasy novel, The Shadow of the Gods, The Hunger of the Gods continues the brilliant storylines established in the first book while also introducing some fun new point-of-view characters.  I am loving every single second of this great book and I cannot wait to see how everything comes together at the end.  I have made some significant progress with this audiobook in the last week and I should hopefully finish it off in the next few days.

What did you recently finish reading?

The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer (Trade Paperback)

The German Wife Cover

 

Desperate Undertaking by Lindsey Davis (Trade Paperback)

Desperate Undertaking Cover 2

What do you think you’ll read next?

World of Warcraft: Sylvanas by Christie Golden

World of Warcraft - Sylvanas Cover

 

 

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Books with Dragons on the Cover

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday participants are tasked with listing their top books that have covers with a specific design element chosen by the blogger, for example books with certain colours, items or animals on their cover.  I thought that this was a pretty clever idea for a topic and I decided to go big with it and choose book covers that have the ultimate animal for my list, dragons.

Let’s face it, we all love dragons!  They are some of the coolest creatures in mythology, with multiple cultures having their own version or alteration of the dragon in their storytelling traditions.  Due to how iconic there are, the use of dragons in storytelling naturally transferred itself across to the world of fantasy fiction, becoming one of the most classic and well utilised monsters or companion creatures in books and movies, such as The Hobbit and the A Song of Ice and Fire series.  As such there are multiple book covers out there that feature dragons to some degree and I was curious to see which ones amongst them were my favourite.

To pull this list together, I had a think about all the best books that featured cool dragon-related cover art.  There were quite a few of these awesome, dragon-covered novels so I decided to limit myself to only using books that I have actually read.  In addition, because dragon-centric series tend to use images of the creatures across multiple entries, I will limit myself to one novel from each franchise, just to create a bit of variety.  This still leaves me with a pretty impressive collection of novels to choose from and I had to do some severe cutting to get it down to a top ten list with my typical honourable mentions section.  I think the list turned out pretty well as there are some great novels below with awesome dragon imagery on their covers.

I will quickly note that I did have a couple of issues finding good quality pictures of some of the relevant covers I wanted to feature here, particularly for some of the older novels, but I have still tried to feature them as best I can.  Apologies in advance if some of them don’t turn out perfect.

Honourable Mentions

The Voyage of the Forgotten by Nick Martell

The Voyage of the Forgotten Cover 2

I love the cover but chose to only feature this as an honourable mention as the book hasn’t come out yet.

 

A Darkness at Sethanon by Raymond E. Feist

A Darkness at Sethanon Cover

A couple of the alternate covers for this great book feature dragons on them, but this was the best looking one of them.

 

She Who Became the Sun by Shelly Parker Chan

She Who Became the Sun Cover

 

Usagi Yojimbo: The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy by Stan Sakai

Usagi Yojimbo The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy

A great use of a dragon in the cover, even if the dragon in the title is more of a metaphor for firearms.

Top Ten List:

The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne

The Shadow of the Gods Cover

An incredible novel with an incredible cover.  Easily one of the best uses of dragons in cover art that you are likely to ever see.

 

Dragonslayer by William King

Dragonslayer Cover Combined

This fantastic Warhammer tie-in novel is spoiled for choice when it comes to dragons on its various covers.

 

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

Guards! Guards! Cover 2

One of the best Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, I love how well the dragon is used, both in this original cover, and in the novel’s exceedingly clever mystery.

 

Black Leviathan by Bern Perplies

Black Leviathan Cover

An extremely epic and distinctive cover for a fun action fantasy novel.  Black Leviathan, which is the English edition of Perplies’s original, German novel, The Dragon Hunter, actually has two fantastic cover variants with dragons on them, although I think the one the English version shown above is a lot more visually impressive.

Black Leviathan alternate cover

 

The Bone Ships by R. J. Barker

The Bone Ships Cover

All three books in Barker’s The Tide Child trilogy featured iconography of the series’ water-dragons, but I think the first entry, The Bone Ships, looks the best.

 

Eldest by Christopher Paolini

Eldest Cover

You can’t have a dragon-based list without featuring an entry from Paoloini’s Inheritance Cycle.  All four novels in this series featured dragons on their cover, although I think that this cover from Eldest was the most striking.

 

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The Priory of the Orange Tree Cover

A very beautiful cover for this complex and intricate fantasy novel.

 

Warcraft: Day of the Dragons by Richard A. Knaak

Warcraft - Day of the Dragon Cover

Several great Warcraft and World of Warcraft tie-in novels feature dragons on their covers, but my favourite of these is Day of the Dragons by Richard A. Knaak, which was an awesome story.

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Cover

Was there ever a chance I wasn’t going to feature this classic cover on this list? Of course not.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Cover 2

 

Dragonclaw by Kate Forsyth

Dragonclaw Cover

The original cover of the first entry in Australian author Kate Forsyth’s The Witches of Eileanan series, Dragonclaw, had a great dragon picture on it, and it serves as an excellent first impression of an amazing fantasy book.

 

 

Well, that’s my list.  As you can see there are some incredible books out there that make great uses of dragons on their covers.  All the above novels are really good, and you will have an incredible time reading them, while also appreciating their stunning, dragon-filled covers.  I had a lot of fun coming up with this list, and I will have to think about replicating it with another creature, item or colour in the future.  In the meantime, let me know what your favourite books with dragons on the cover are in the comments below.

Book Haul – 24 April 2022

I’ve just had a rather good week for book collecting, which included a particularly big parcel from one publisher that was filled with awesome reads.  As these books included some pretty amazing novels, including a couple that I was extremely excited to get, I figured I would do a Book Haul post to gloat about, I mean, lovingly highlight, the latest additions to my collection.  All the below books sound really cool and I can’t wait to get through them all.

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne

The Hunger of the Gods Cover

So let us start this Book Haul off with the book I was most excited to get, the epic The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne, one of my most anticipated reads for 2022.  The sequel to Gwynne’s brilliant The Shadow of the Gods (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021), this outstanding novel continues the impressive, Norse inspired, dark fantasy Bloodsworn Saga in a big way by setting reborn gods against each other as savage warriors battle for revenge, glory and survival.  I have already started this awesome novel and it is turning out to pretty damn good, and this is probably going to get another five-star rating from me.  Also, just check out that incredible cover!!!!!

 

The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer

The German Wife Cover

I was also lucky enough to receive historical drama The German Wife from Australian author Kelly Rimmer, who blew me away last year with her moving novel, The Warsaw Orphan.  I actually have already read this great book and it was another powerful historical drama that presents a complex portrayal of life under the Nazis and the lasting consequences of the choices people make.

 

Desperate Undertaking by Lindsey Davis

Desperate Undertaking Cover 2

I was very, very happy to receive the latest Flavia Albia novel from historical fiction author Lindsey Davis, Desperate Undertaking.  The Flavia Albia books are some of my favourite historical fiction novels and they are a brilliant and much anticipated addition to my yearly reading schedule (some of the best ones include The Third Nero, Pandora’s Boy, The Grove of the Caesars).  I just started reading Desperate Undertakings today and I am already loving its great story about a serial killer who is murdering members of ancient Rome’s theatre scene in some elaborate, play inspired ways.  This already shaping up to be one of the better entries in this long-running series and I cannot wait to see how it all comes together.

 

The Man in the Bunker by Rory Clements

The Man in the Bunker

Another great book I was excited to get is the latest entry in the Tom Wilde series, The Man in the Bunker by Rory Clements.  Set at the end of World War II, this interesting read will follow protagonist Tom Wilde as he attempts to determine whether Hitler died in the bunker or actually escaped.  Sure to be a great historical thriller, I cannot wait to read this book.

 

One Foot in the Fade by Luke Arnold

One Foot in the Fade Cover

Australian author Luke Arnold’s Fetch Phillips urban fantasy series continues with the third book, One Foot in the Fade.  The intriguing follow-up to Arnold’s first two novels, The Last Smile in Sunder City and Dead Man in a Ditch, One Foot in the Fade will once again follow protagonist Fetch Phillips as he continues to try and bring magic back to his city.  This time he must deal with mysterious falling angels landing on the street which will no doubt leave to another awesome mystery.

 

Wake by Shelley Burr

Wake Cover

One of the most interesting novels I received as part of this haul is the compelling new debut from Canberran author Shelley Burr, Wake.  Set in small town, outback Australia, Wake is an incredible mystery thriller which sees a determined investigator attempt to solve an impossible disappearance.  I deeply love the sound of this extremely compelling and very dark narrative and I look forward to finding out the clever secrets contained within.

 

Skyward Flight by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson

Skyward Flight Cover

I was quite excited to receive a copy of Skyward Flight, the ultimate companion to Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward series.  I have a lot of love for the Skyward novels which follows a determined teenage fighter pilot who is determined to save her planet from an alien invasion.  Made up of Skyward (one of my favourite books of 2018), Starsight (one of my favourite books of 2019) and Cytonic, this has been an awesome series to read, and Skyward Flight will provide some further context to the existing books.  Collecting the three novellas, Sunreach, ReDawn and Evershore, which Sanderson cowrote with Janci Patterson, the stories in this book focus on the supporting cast from the first two novels and showcases what happens while the protagonist is trapped in another dimension.  I have been meaning to explore these novellas for a while and this big volume looks to be the ultimate opportunity to finally do that.

 

Blood Sugar by Sascha Rothchild

Blood Sugar Cover

Easily the most uniquely entertaining sounding book I received in this haul was the fantastic murder mystery book, Blood Sugar by Sascha Rothchild.  The debut novel from Rothchild, Blood Sugar tells the tale of a killer, Ruby, who finds herself accused of four separate murders.  However, Ruby only committed three of the murders, and now the crime she didn’t commit may finally bring her down.

 

Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li

Potrait of a Thief Cover

Another great debut novel I was excited to get was Portrait of a Thief from Grace D. Li.  This book is billed as a heist novel that also looks at unique friendships and culture as five Chinese American students attempt to steal valuable Chinese artworks from an American museum.  I love the idea of a heist story that also looks at five character’s relationships with both their home and adopted countries, and I am very keen to try this novel out.

 

No Less The Devil by Stuart MacBride

No Less the Devil Cover

The final book I received was No Less the Devil from bestselling author Stuart MacBride.  Serving as the latest entry in the Oldcastle series, No Less the Devil will focus on both a hunt for a notorious serial killer and a mysterious case of another killer caught up in a shadowy conspiracy.  This sounds like a great, dark mystery and I am curious to try out Stuart MacBride’s work for the first time.

 

Well that’s the end of this latest Book Haul post.  As you can see I have quite a bit of reading to do at the moment thanks to all these awesome books that have come in.  Let me know which of the above you are most interested in and make sure to check back in a few weeks to see my reviews of them.

WWW Wednesday – 20 April 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer (Trade Paperback)

The German Wife Cover

I have been really getting into this excellent historical drama from Australian author Kelly Rimmer, who really impressed me last year with her previous book, The Warsaw Orphan.  Her latest novel, The German Wife, tells a complex and multi-layered story about the family of a former Nazi scientist who was recruited by the Americans to work on the US rocket program, and who face many issues from their new American neighbors.  Containing an exceedingly intense narrative set around some powerful depictions of both Nazi German and 1950s America, The German Wife is a brilliant read and I will hopefully finish it off in the next day or so.

 

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne (Audiobook)

The Hunger of the Gods Cover

I only just started the epic new novel from bestselling fantasy author John Gwynne, The Hunger of the Gods.  The sequel to last year’s incredible The Shadow of the Gods (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021), The Hunger of the Gods looks set to be another outstanding novel and I cannot wait to see what exceptional, dark fantasy craziness occurs here.  This is a pretty massive audiobook so it might take me a little while to get through it, but hopefully I will have made some major progress by this time next week.

What did you recently finish reading?

Amongst our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch

Amongst our Weapons Cover

 

Star Wars: Kenobi by John Jackson Miller

Star Wars - Kenobi Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Desperate Undertaking by Lindsey Davis

Desperate Undertaking Cover 2

 

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books on my Autumn 2022 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  The official Top Ten Tuesday topic for this week was around Dynamic Duos, however, I decided to instead move up my quarterly post about the best upcoming books to read (TBR) for the following three months.  This is a regular post I do at the start of each season, and as this Tuesday is just before Autumn (Spring for you folks in the Northern Hemisphere), this is the ideal time to put this up.

For this list, I have come up with 10 of the most anticipated novels that are coming out between 1 March 2022 and 31 May 2022.  There are quite a few very cool novels set for release in the next few months that I am extremely excited for, including some of my most anticipated books and fantasy novels of the year.  Due to how impressive some of these upcoming books are, it took me a little while to finalise my list but I was eventually able to whittle it down into a Top Ten list (with a few honourable mentions).  I have primarily used the Australian publication dates to reflect when I will be able to get these awesome novels, and these might be somewhat different to the rest of the world.  I have previously discussed a number of these books before in prior Top Ten Tuesdays and Waiting on Wednesday articles and I think all of them will turn out to be pretty incredible reads.  I have extremely excited for the next three months as quite a few up these upcoming reads are easily going to be amongst the best books of 2022.

Honourable Mentions:

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi – 15 March 2022

The Kaiju Preservation Society Cover

A fun romp with giant monsters that is going to be so very entertaining.

 

Everyone in my Family has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson – 29 March 2022

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone Cover

A great upcoming book with a fantastic concept, Everyone in my Family has Killed Someone is the latest thriller from Australian author Benjamin Stevenson (Greenlight and Either Side of Midnight).  This cool novel will see an entire family with murderous secrets start killing each other during a deadly family reunion, and I know I am going to love it. 

 

Amongst our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch – 12 April 2022

Amongst our Weapons Cover

Impressive fantasy author Ben Aaronovitch returns with the latest book in his Rivers of London series that follows a special police unit that investigates magical crimes in London.  This series perfectly blends urban fantasy with police procedural elements (check out my reviews for Lies Sleeping and False Value), and I look forward to seeing what happens next.

 

One Foot in the Fade by Luke Arnold – 26 April 2022

One Foot in the Fade Cover

After having a brilliant 2020 with his first two novels, The Last Smile in Sunder City (one of the best debuts of 2020) and Dead Man in a Ditch, Luke Arnold returns to the deadly Sunder City, a former stronghold of magic that has fallen into devastating ruin following the destruction all magic in the world.  One Foot in the Fade will continue to follow Arnold’s detective character as he attempts to bring back magic and save the former magical creatures he doomed to an early grave.

Top Ten List:

Usagi Yojimbo: Tengu War! by Stan Sakai – 22 March 2022

Usagi Yojimbo - Tengu War!

The first entry on this list is the next upcoming Usagi Yojimbo comic, Tengu War!.  I had this book on my last TBR list, but the release date got knocked back to March, so I am featuring it again here.  I am extremely keen for this comic and I cannot wait to see what epic adventure Usagi gets into next.

 

Kingdoms of Death by Christopher Ruocchio – 22 March 2022

Kingdom of Death Cover 2

An incredible sounding entry in one of the best current science fiction series.

 

An Empty Throne by Robert Fabbri – 1 April 2022

An Empty Throne Cover

More chaos in the aftermath of Alexander the Great’s death.

 

The Bladed Faith by David Dalglish – 5 April 2022

The Bladed Faith Cover

Assassins, deposed kings, and dead gods should lead to an epic read.

 

Desperate Undertakings by Lindsey Davis – 7 April 2022

Desperate Undertaking Cover 1

The next Flavia Albia novel from legendary historical fiction author Lindsey Davis, who has produced some outstanding books in recent years (check out my reviews for Pandora’s Boy, A Capitol Death and The Grove of the Caesars).  This next entertaining sounding novel will follow its protagonist as she investigates several despicable deaths around ancient Rome.  Sure to be a ball of fun, I am extremely keen to check it out.

 

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne – 12 April 2022

The Hunger of the Gods Cover

Still my favourite cover of 2022.

 

Three Assassins by Kotaro Isaka – 12 April 2022

Three Assassins Cover

Last year I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Kotaro Isaka’s Bullet Train, the English translations of one of his impressive Japanese books.  I had a ton of fun with this clever thriller and I was extremely excited to find out that Isaka had a new book coming out this year with Three Assassins.  His new book will pit another unique group of assassins against each other and should make for an extremely captivating read.

 

The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence – 4 May 2022

The Girl and the Moon Cover

One of the most intriguing current masters of fantasy fiction, the impressive Mark Lawrence brings his clever Book of the Ice trilogy to and end this year with The Girl and the Moon.  I have deeply enjoyed this cool series over the last two years, with the first two entries, The Girl and the Stars and The Girl and the Mountain, being extremely impressive reads.  I cannot wait to see how this series ends I am expecting heartbreak, destruction and some powerful moments.

 

Star Wars: Brotherhood by Mike Chen – 10 May 2022

Star Wars - Brotherhood Cover

Return to the Clone Wars with this awesome upcoming Star Wars novel.

 

Kagen the Damned by Jonathan Maberry – 10 May 2022

Kagen the Damned Cover

My favourite thriller author dives into fantasy fiction this year with an intense revenge story I am already predicting will be a five-star read.

 

 

Well, that is the end of my Top Ten list.  I think it turned out pretty well and it does a good job of capturing all my most anticipated books for the next three months.  Each of the above should be extremely epic, and I cannot wait to read each of them soon.  Let me know which of the above you are most excited for and stay tuned for reviews of them in the next few months.  In the meantime, it looks like I have quite a few books to get through soon and they should all be pretty awesome.

Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Book Covers of 2021

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, where I am going to list my absolute favourite book covers of the last year.  This is actually the second Top Ten Tuesday post I am putting up today, mainly because I wanted to finish off all my best-of-2021 lists before we got too far into the new year.  I have previously highlighted several other amazing books from last year in a range of lists, including My Favourite Books of 2021, Favourite Audiobooks, Favourite Debuts and Favourite Australian Fiction lists, and I think looking at awesome covers is a good way to wrap this all up.

Now, I know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I think we can all agree that an awesome piece of cover art can really raise some interest in a novel.  I can personally think of several examples where an epic cover absolutely grabbed me and convinced me to check out a novel that I ended up really loving.  2021 was a great example of this as there were some extremely cool and impressive covers that I thought were visually stunning.  Most of these outstanding covers complemented and emphasised the amazing stories within, and in some places the cover artists really went all out to produce some truly epic statement pieces.  As such, I thought I would quickly highlight some of the best covers here by producing a visually awesome list.  To appear on this list, the book had to be released in 2021 and had to be generally impressive and amazing.  I think I ended up choosing a great range of excellent covers, and I hope you enjoy all the pretty pictures below.  I have tried to find out who did the cover art where possible, although for a couple of books (ones I got on audiobook and don’t have a physical copy of), I couldn’t find out who drew it.  Apologies in advance for any artist I overlooked.

Honourable Mentions:

Lies Like Wildfire written by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, cover by MISHKO

Lies Like Wildfire Cover

 

The Dark written by Jeremy Robinson

The Dark Cover

 

Breakout written by Paul Herron, cover by Patrick Insole

Breakout Cover

 

The Mask of Mirrors written by M. A. Carrick, cover by Nekro and Lauren Panepinto

The Mask of Mirrors Cover

Top Ten Tuesday:

The Shadow of the Gods written by John Gwynne, cover by Marcus Whinney

The Shadow of the Gods Cover

My absolute favourite cover of 2021, this epic piece of art really grabbed my attention and forced me to read this impressive piece of fantasy fiction.  I had a wonderful time with The Shadow of the Gods and the upcoming sequel, The Hunger of the Gods, also has an extremely awesome cover (easily going to be one of the best covers of 2022).

 

Star Wars: Visions: Ronin written by Emma Mieko Candon, cover by Ella Laytham and Kotaro Chiba

Star Wars Visions - Ronin Cover

There were some cool pieces of Star Wars cover art out this year, but nothing could top the artistic masterpiece that appeared on Ronin.  A tie-in to the Star Wars: Visions anime series, the cover of Ronin made perfect use of traditional Japanese artforms to create something exceptional.  I loved the blend of Star Wars iconography and the classic Japanese wave form, and this was an absolute joy to behold.

 

The Pariah written by Anthony Ryan, cover by Lauren Panepinto and Jaime Jones

The Pariah Cover

A clever and subtle bit of art that showcases the roguish protagonist of this fun fantasy novel.  I think the artist did a great job of highlighting what was to come in The Pariah, and the cool detail around the character was very impressive.  While I loved the art for The Pariah, I think that the cover on the upcoming sequel, The Martyr, is even better, and I can’t wait to grab it.

 

The Twice-Dead King: Ruin, written by Nate Crowley

The Twice-Dead King - Ruin Cover

Gosh artists must have so much fun coming up with art for Warhammer covers, as there are some amazing and fantastic elements contained in this extended universe.  I particularly loved this cover from last year, which showcases the ancient and mysterious Necron race in all their glory.  A great cover for a very entertaining tie-in novel.

 

The Warsaw Orphan written by Kelly Rimmer, cover by Christabella Designs

The Warsaw Orphan Cover

A simple and understated cover that does a wonderful job highlighting the upcoming dread and tragedy contained in this moving historical drama novel.

 

Colonyside, written by Michael Mammay, cover by Sebastien Hue

Colonyside Cover

There have been some really great covers for the previous books in Michael Mammay’s Planetside series (Planetside and Spaceside), but I think that the one for Colonyside was the best.  I love the above shot, especially as it perfectly captures the insane jungle planet that was such a distinctive setting of this book.  A very fun cover!

 

Star Wars: The High Republic: Tempest Runner, written by Cavan Scott, cover by Katerina Balikova

Star Wars - Tempest Runner Cover

While I also deeply enjoyed one of the covers for Cavan Scott’s other 2021 Star Wars release, The Rising Storm, I think that the cool art that adorned the front of Tempest Runner was even better.  Tempest Runner, which was released as both a full-cast audio drama and a paperback, was a great read, and I loved how this cover did a fantastic job of capturing it’s entertaining and deadly central character.

 

Later, written by Stephen King, cover by Paul Mann

Later Cover

I loved the classic mystery novel feel that the artists choose to utilise for Stephen King’s early 2021 release, Later.  This cover does a fantastic job capturing the unique tone of this cool horror/coming-of-age story and gives it a fun, crime fiction-tinged edge.  This cover, as well as another couple of covers done by Gregory Manchess for the hardcover version, also fit the story really well, especially as they connect to the cheesy adventure novels that the protagonist and his mother produce.

 

Cytonic written by Brandon Sanderson, cover by Sam Green and Tomas Almeida

Cytonic Cover

I have a lot of love for the cool covers that get used in the Gollancz versions of Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward series (so far consisting of Skyward and Starlight).  The cover for the third book, Cytonic, was particularly awesome, and I loved how it showcased parts of the very unique new setting of the third novel.

 

The Art of Death written by David Fennell, cover by Nick Stearn

The Art of Death Cover

A creepy and eye-catching piece of artwork that hints at the disturbing crimes contained in this fantastic 2021 crime fiction debut.

 

Well, that’s the end of this second list, I hope you enjoyed all the cool covers above.  Make sure to me know what your favourite book covers of 2021 was in the comments below and I cannot wait to see what awesome and epic pieces of art will grace the front of 2022’s best reads.

Top Ten Tuesday – Favourite New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2021

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  The official topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday was 2021 releases I was excited to read but didn’t get to, however, I addressed that topic in my post last week.  So instead of covering that, this week I will look at my favourite new-to-me authors that I discovered in 2021.  This is a list I have covered for the last couple of years (make sure to check out my 2019 and 2020 versions), and it is one that I always have fun doing.

Each year I am lucky enough to read a great number of awesome novels and this often includes some that were written by authors whose work I was previously unfamiliar with.  2021 was a good example of this as there were an incredible collection of amazing novels written by authors who were completely new to me.  This included some debuting authors, as well as more established writers whose work I only got around to this year.  Many of these new-to-me authors produced some truly exceptional reads, some of which I consider to be some of the best books released in 2021, and I really feel the need to highlight them here.  As a result, this list may feature a bit of overlap with my top books, pre-2021 books and audiobooks lists of 2021 that I have previously published on this blog.

To appear on this list, the book had to be one I read last year and be written by an author who I was unfamiliar with before 2021.  If I had not read anything from this author before last year, it was eligible for this latest list, although I did exclude debut novels as I had another list prepared for them.  Despite this, I ended up with a massive list of potential inclusions on this list, as it appears that I read a ton of great new authors in the last year.  Despite my best efforts, I had a very hard time whittling this list down, so in the end I decided to face the inevitable and leave it as a top 20 list.  While I still had to exclude several great authors whose books I really liked, I think that I came up with a good overall list that represents which authors I am really glad that I decided to try out for the first time last year.

Top Twenty List:

William King – Trollslayer, Skavenslayer, Daemonslayer, and Dragonslayer

Slayers Coveres

Well, let us start this list off with an author I read multiple books from in 2021 with William King.  I was in a real Warhammer mood in 2021, and as part of the that I decided to check out the iconic Gotrek and Felix series that was initially written by King.  This great series follows a deranged dwarf Slayer and his reluctant human companion as they travel around the Warhammer Fantasy world looking for a monster bad enough to give Gotrek the heroic death he desperately wants.  I really love this amazing series and I ended up reading the first four of King’s Gotrek and Felix books in 2021, Trollslayer, Skavenslayer, Daemonslayer and Dragonslayer, each of which were a lot of fun.  I have even kept reading King’s books in 2022, having only recently read and reviewed the fifth Gotrek and Felix novel, Beastslayer.  I fully intend to keep reading this series this year when I get a chance, and I reckon I will finish off King’s entire run on this series extremely soon.

 

Jeremy Robinson – The Dark and Mind Bullet

The Dark and Mind Bullet Cover

The other new-to-me author who I read more than one book from in 2021 was Jeremy Robinson, an awesome author known for his over-the-top science fiction and horror books.  I was initially drawn to Robinson’s interesting dark horror read, The Dark, which sets a group of protagonists against a deadly demonic invasion, and which had a brilliant story to it.  I ended up enjoying it so much that I decided to check out any other books that Robinson had coming out in 2021 and that led me to his latest release, Mind Bullet, which follows a psychic assassin who finds himself being hunted by a cadre of unconventional and superpowered hitmen.  I had an absolute blast reading these cool books, and the both received easy five-star ratings from me.  Due to how much fun I had with these books I plan to read a hell of a lot more from Robinson this year, especially as he has some cool releases on the way.

 

Tess Sharpe – The Girls I’ve Been

The Girls I've Been Cover

One of the more interesting authors I checked out in 2021 was young adult author Tess Sharpe who wowed me with her cool novel, The Girls I’ve Been.  This fantastic novel followed a teenage former con-artist who is forced to revert to her old ways to save herself and her friends from vicious bank robbers.  Clever, compelling and deeply thrilling, I have so much love for this novel and I cannot wait to see what cool books Sharpe rights in the future.

 

John Gwynne – The Shadow of the Gods

The Shadow of the Gods Cover

One of the best new-to-me authors I read last year was legendary fantasy author John Gwynne.  Gwynne, who has written some very highly regarded dark fantasy books in the past presented The Shadow of the Gods last year, which was the first book in his new Bloodsworn Saga series.  I initially hadn’t planned to read this book but after hearing so many positive reviews about it I changed my mind and was extremely glad that I did.  The Shadow of the Gods was an epic and captivating read that featured action and adventure in an awesome, Viking-inspired fantasy landscape.  This was such an incredible book (with a really amazing cover) and it made me an instant fan of this author.  I cannot wait to see where this series goes next, and I really need to go back and read some of Gwynne’s earlier series.

 

Mara Timon – Resistance

Resistance Cover

I was also lucky enough to read the fantastic historical thriller Resistance towards the end of last year written by relatively new author Mara Timon.  Resistance was a sequel to Timon’s 2020 debut City of Spies and contains a great story about a female spy dropped into occupied Normandy shortly before the D-Day landings.  This was an excellent spy thriller and I look forward to seeing what other cool books Timon writes in the future.

 

Nate Crowley – The Twice-Dead King: Ruin

The Twice-Dead King - Ruin Cover

Another great new-to-me author of Warhammer fiction I read last year was the insanely talented Nate Crowley who presented his first The Twice-Dead King novel, RuinRuin followed a banished Necron prince as he attempts to save his former empire from internal corruption and destructive outside forces.  Breathing amazing life into essentially dead characters, this was a fantastic and intense Warhammer read that I had a great time with.  I cannot wait to see how the series continues in 2022 and I will also try to read some of Crowley’s other cool Warhammer releases.

 

Kotaro Isaka – Bullet Train

Bullet Train Cover

I was very excited to check out a book from Japanese thriller author Kotaro Isaka last year with Bullet Train.  A translation of his 2010 novel Maria Beetle, this book featured a complex and quirky tale about several assassins trapped on the same bullet train.  I had an incredible time with this book, especially as Isaka loaded it with some amazing twists and very unique characters.  Thanks to the success of this book, and the cool upcoming (if somewhat whitewashed) film adaptation of Bullet Train, several of the author’s other novels are being translated and I look forward to seeing what other crazy adventures he has come up with.

 

Kelly Rimmer – The Warsaw Orphan

The Warsaw Orphan Cover

Another great new author I found in 2021 was historical drama writer Kelly Rimmer whose latest book, The Warsaw Orphan, was an outstanding and powerful read.  Set in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation, this book follows a group of people who attempt to save Jewish children from the Ghetto.  A heartbreaking and riveting read, The Warsaw Orphan was an amazing book and I will be keeping an eye out for more of Rimmer’s stuff in the future.

 

Andy Weir – Project Hail Mary

Project Hail Mary Cover

One of the best books I had the pleasure to read in 2021 was Project Hail Mary, an impressive and clever science fiction novel by bestselling author Andy Weir.  I have been meaning to read some of Weir’s books for years, especially after seeing the movie adaptation of The Martian, but I never got the chance.  As such I was extremely keen to read his latest book when it came out last year and boy did Project Hail Mary deliver.  Containing an epic and brilliant story filled with realistic science, I loved every second I spent reading this book and I honestly could not put it down.  I am now a firm fan of the author and I fully intend to read the rest of Weir’s works as soon as possible.

 

Josh Reynolds – Kal Jerico: Sinner’s Bounty

Kal Jerico - Sinner's Bounty Cover

There was no way that I couldn’t check out fantastic author Josh Reynolds this year especially after I saw that he had brought back one of my favourite Warhammer 40,000 characters, Kal Jerico.  This cool new book, Sinner’s Bounty, sets the titular bounty hunter and his friends on an insane journey into the depths of their Hive City to retrieve a wanted man.  Forced to contend with rival bounty hunters, monsters, mutants, and gangs, this was an amazing read and I will be checking out more of Reynolds’ Warhammer books in the future, especially if they feature Kal Jerico.

 

Sarah Bailey – The Housemate

The Housemate Cover

I was very lucky to grab a novel from amazing Australian author Sarah Bailey this year.  Her latest book, The Housemate, was a brilliant novel that saw a disturbed reporter attempt to solve a notorious crime that had been haunting her for years.  Incredibly powerful, compelling and intense, this was one of the best Australian books of 2021 and I will be very interested to see what other cool books Bailey writes in the future.

 

Steve Cavanagh – The Devil’s Advocate

The Devil's Advocate Cover

Easily one of the more entertaining books I read in 2021 was the fun and wildly addictive legal thriller by Steve Cavanagh, The Devil’s Advocate.  The sixth book in his Eddie Flynn series, The Devil’s Advocate was a great novel that saw its former conman turned defence attorney protagonist attempt to stop a murderous prosecutor determined to send an innocent man to death row.  I had an amazing time with this compelling and over-the-top read, and I now really want to go back and read the rest of the awesome novels in this cool series.

 

Anthony Ryan – The Pariah

The Pariah Cover

Another instant favourite new author I checked out last year was impressive well-established fantasy author Anthony Ryan.  Ryan is another author who I have been meaning to read for a while and it turns out I have been really missing out.  His latest book, The Pariah, was an excellent and compelling first entry in a great new series that follows a young scribe as he journeys around a fantasy world trying to find his purpose.  An epic first book, I cannot wait to see how this series continues and I know I am going to love it.

 

John Grisham – The Judge’s List

The Judge's List Cover

Perhaps one of the biggest names on this list is bestselling author John Grisham, who has been at the top of the crime fiction genre for decades.  Grisham is one of those massive authors whose work I have been meaning to read for a very long time but never got the chance.  Well, that all changed last year when I received a copy of his latest book, The Judge’s List, which sets some clever protagonists against a dangerous serial killer who is also a sitting judge.  I had an incredible time with The Judge’s List, and I am fully planning to check out the rest of Grisham’s catalogue to see what I have been missing out on.

 

Dan Abnett – First and Only

First and Only Cover

Wow there were so many awesome new-to-me Warhammer authors I checked out last year and one of the best was Dan Abnett.  Abnett has written a ton of awesome Warhammer novels over the years, but the first book of his I decided to check out was First and Only, the initial book of his iconic Gaunt’s Ghosts series.  Following a regiment of Imperial Guard soldiers as they fight through a gauntlet of traitors, rivals and conspiracies, this was an outstanding novel and I cannot wait to see what happens in the rest of this impressive series.

 

A. W. Hammond – The Paris Collaborator

The Paris Collaborator Cover

I had a great time checking out thriller author A. W. Hammond for the first time in 2021.  Hammond, who also writes under the name Alex Hammond, produced an exceptional and fun historical thriller last year with The Paris Collaborator.  Set in the last days of the German occupation of Paris, this cool book follows a French investigator who is hired to find several missing men around the city.  Filled with cool action, intense twists and some excellent historical moments, this was a great read and I will be keeping an eye out for more of Hammond’s novels in the future.

 

Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman – All of Us Villains

All of us Villains Cover

I am slightly cheating here by including two authors in the one entry, but as this was the first time I had read anything from either of them and they were collaborating on the same book, I think I can make an exception.  These two authors were Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman, a great team of established authors who collaborated for the first time to create the amazing All of Us VillainsAll of Us Villains was an excellent and entertaining young adult fantasy book that followed seven champions forced into a magical death tournament with the entire world watching.  Loaded with amazing characters and brutal magic, this was an awesome book and I am extremely glad I decided to check out this intriguing team of authors last year.

 

Max Barry – The 22 Murders of Madison May

The 22 Murders of Madison May Cover

I had been meaning to read something from talented Australian author Max Barry for a while, especially as he has written some great and compelling sounding science fiction reads.  I finally got a chance last year when I received a copy of Barry’s latest book, The 22 Murders of Madison May.  This was a cool book that saw a women attempt to stop a deranged stalker from killing every version of his obsession, actress Madison May, in the multiverse.  I deeply enjoyed this complex and entertaining story and I will have to grab some more stuff from Barry in the future.

 

Grady Hendrix – The Final Girl Support Group

The Final Girl Support Group Cover

One author I have been hearing a lot of buzz around over the years is Grady Hendrix, who has written several intriguing and unique horror hybrid novels.  Due to all the positive stuff I have heard about this author I decided to check out one of their books last year with their 2021 release, The Final Girl Support Group.  Set in a world were the survivors of iconic slasher scenarios have formed a support group, this cool novel follows these paranoid and damaged protagonists as they attempt to survive a new monster who is determined to kill them.  An impressive homage to iconic slasher films that cleverly deconstructs the genre, this was a very fun read and I am extremely glad I decided to check out Grady Hendrix last year.

 

S. R. White – Prisoner

The Prisoner Cover

The final top new-to-me author I read last year was Australian author S. R. White, who released their second novel Prisoner.  This was an enjoyable and captivating Australian murder mystery novel that had a very gritty and realistic feel to it, especially in some impressive interrogation scenes.  An excellent novel from a great new author I will have to read more of in the future.

 

 

Well, that’s the end of this latest Top Ten list.  I think it turned out rather well and it encapsulates some of the best new authors I checked out in 2021.  I look forward to reading more books from these authors in the future and I have no doubt they will produce more epic and incredible reads.  Make sure to let me know which new authors you enjoyed in 2021 in the comments below and make sure to check back next week for another exciting list.